Monday, May 10, 2004

The Barbecue Vote

I stumbled across this article earlier today. I felt it addressed the subject matter rather well, although nothing compares to the original.

:: New Statesman: They work longer hours than Dad did, regret not having wives who stay at home, and hate seeing those minorities getting uppity. Meet the angry white men Bush can rely on.

By any rational measure the average white American male enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. The United States is consistently near the top of the UN's Human Development Index measuring quality of life in 175 countries. Yet white men across America are mad as hell, and George W Bush's campaign strategists are counting on their anger to keep their candidate in the White House in November...

At heart AWMs are convinced their adult life sucks, and they seem unaware that people in Africa or Asia face greater difficulties. Most Americans get their news from television, and the majority tune in to local channels or cable, rather than ABC, NBC or CBS. Local TV news barely touches foreign stories unless there are sensational images or quirky aspects ('my, aren't those Finns weird?'). Americans have a galaxy of information at their fingertips thanks to the internet, but that does not make them more worldly than their fathers.

Paradoxically, because they no longer get their news from Walter Cronkite or his modern network equivalents, many live in a bubble in which they hear and read only the narrow views of the prophets of doom with whom they already agree. Their bewilderment and disconnection from the gritty reality of elsewhere has only been increased by 9/11.

However, this only goes some way to explaining why AWMs will be willingly herded into the George W Bush camp come election time. If they believe they are much less well-off than their fathers, then logically they should vote for the party that best represents their economic interest against the ruthless, downsizing corporations and the greedy medical insurance companies screwing them out of healthcare.

But, defying all Marxist analysis, AWMs are crazy about the sedated frat-boy from New Haven, Connecticut; the under-achieving, privileged scion of those Washington insiders, the Bush dynasty. The AWMs obligingly rally behind this petulant former drunk-driver who describes individuals in his cabinet as 'fabulous' - not a word an AWM would ever use.

Karl Rove, the brain behind the Dubbya brand, perfectly understands the anxieties of the AWMs. He knows they feel patronised by the bicoastal metrosexuals who describe Middle Americans as 'the people we fly over'. He also knows they want their president to be 'the kind of guy you can talk to while you're standing around the barbecue'. They don't want to feel threatened by some sophisticated, egghead, liberal 'jerk' from Georgetown, Boston or San Francisco...

The Republicans are richer and better organised than ever, and confident that the ponderous, if worthy, John Kerry will be too liberal, aloof and dull to convince AWMs to join him. The Democratic candidate may be a war hero and may enjoy manly, extreme sports, but is he the kind of guy you can talk to around the barbecue?



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